Banquet Center Is Weddings Gift

April 4, 2003
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FERRYSBURG — His market research came from personal experience.

When Tim Deiters’ son got married last year, he had to hold the wedding reception in Norton Shores because, with a guest list of more than 300, they were unable to find a place in Grand Haven or Spring Lake large enough to accommodate the event.

Now Deiters and two business associates, one of whom had a similar experience when his daughter got married a year earlier, are doing something about it.

Deiters and Bob and Randy Wagenmaker are developing the $2.2 million Trillium Banquet and Conference Center in Ferrysburg, just north of Grand Haven, that’s designed to hold 600 people. Spurring the project was what they perceived as a lack of a suitable venue in town to handle large events.

“We just saw a need in the area,” said Deiters, a master electrician who co-owns electric contractor Deiters and Helmers Electric Inc. in Grand Haven.

“Trying to find a place big enough hold more than 300 people — that’s the kicker. There just isn’t anything,” he said.

The Trillium Banquet and Conference Center is planned for a 5.75-acre site on Van Wagoner Road, west of U.S. 31. Construction began last month and is on a fast track, with completion scheduled for June.

The facility will include a main banquet room with a seating capacity of 600, or 350 people each when it’s divided into two rooms, plus two smaller adjoining conference rooms for gatherings of 60 people or less and adjacent outdoor patios. The developers plan to wire each room “to the max” with a sound system and install video-conferencing and projection televisions to accommodate seminars and business meetings, Deiters said.

While providing a venue to host wedding receptions got Deiters and the Wagenmakers involved in the project, their goal is to market Trillium to a far broader audience. They hope that business meetings, luncheons, trade shows and seminars will account for half of their business.

In marketing the facility across the region in hopes of luring business events and trade shows, they plan to leverage the community’s appeal as a popular tourist destination. The idea is that after attending an event at the conference center, attendees spend the day in town or stay the night for an extended visit, Deiters said.

“We have a town that has a lot to offer. We have a lot to do here,” he said. “We hope to tie in with everybody.”

The seeds for the Trillium facility were planted two years ago when Bob Wagenmaker, owner of a home-building company, needed a place for his daughter’s wedding, Deiters said. With nothing available in town to accommodate the reception, they held it at a restaurant in West Olive.

That sparked talk between Deiters and Bob Wagenmaker, long-time friends and business associates, about developing a large banquet and conference center in the Grand Haven area. Their plans fell through when a site in Grand Haven Township they had selected turned out to be unbuildable.

After seeing the same problem arise when his son got married last year, Deiters and Wagenmaker started talking about the idea again. Their plans moved forward this time when the owner of the site along Van Wagoner Road approached Wagenmaker about buying the land.

“We said, ‘Let’s try it,’ so we’re trying it,” Dieters said.

Financing for the project was secured through a U.S. Small Business Administration loan program.               

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